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post #3 of Old 02-27-2003
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Footed mainsail w/ flattening reef

Would like to disagree with jparker on the foot loads on a mainsail. Most of the "shelves" on older=styled mains including the ones on our old mains, were of really light material because there isn''t much strain there. The theory was to create an "end plate" effect between the bottom of the sail and the boom, and all that was needed was something to keep the wind from going through. 3/4 oz Spinnaker cloth would have worked except it might have gotten chafed through or snagged on things too easily. Big outhaul and tack loads were then and are now carried by the heavier dacron (or composite whatever) panels in the aerodynamically shaped section at the bottom of the sail. This is why the "flattening reef" has dissapeared; it is added weight, and the current thinking is that there is better flow over the bottom section of the sail- less turbulence and more laminar flow- without an "end plate". It''s also cheaper to make and buy a sail without a footrope. We worried that folding a loose-footed main would be more difficult, but it really isn''t.
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